Introducing the Improvement and Development Board

This article appears in the November 2017 edition of The Clerk – the newsletter of the Society of Local Council Clerks.  Terminology: within the sector Town and Parish Councils are referred to as “Local Councils” with their larger brethren which people may more instantly think of as local authorities known as “principal authorities”.   My…

It’s About the End User, Stupid! … No! Not that one! The TICTeC blog

TICTeC is great.  The world is better for having TICTeC in it.  It provokes delight, wonder and thoughts.  This blog is mostly about the thoughts! TICTeC is The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference and the third one was held last week (25-26 April, in Florence).  It is funded thanks to sponsorship from Google and the…

Is “Localism” to Blame for Brexit?

An edited version of this blog first appeared in LGC shortly after the Brexit vote. Some of the trends that we celebrate as localist – taking decisions closer to the people they affect, uniting people within the bubble of their place, creating effective but smaller groups of people – these trends of fragmentation seem similar…

Free is a Curious Price

This is where I may get torn to shreds by some people I really like – Open Data folk. For the last three decades, since my early qualifications in Operational Research, through my consulting and public and private leadership roles I have been fascinated by the role of data and analytics in helping make the…

“Dark Value” in Public Services?

We are used to the idea of “dark matter” as the name of the precisely quantified but undetectable proportion of the universe that has to be there for current physics theories to make sense.  By analogy* Geoff McCracken writes in a book of the same name about “Dark Value” – the hidden value –  that…

Why Ideology Eats Evidence for Breakfast

A Bioengineer called Guru Madhavan gave a talk at the RSA this week pointing out that it makes sense to apply the tools of rational disciplines, like engineering, to the field of public policy.  He gave some examples of (what others would call) user-centred design, systematic and multi-criteria decision-making. I got this stuff with my…

Immediate Reflections on the 2015 Solace Summit

I shared my immediate reflections on this year’s Solace summit in the following tweets which, to be clear, contain my personal views and are framed partly as provocations, the provocative nature often enhanced by the character limit! Reflection 1: Devo will give birth to people-place-changing awesome 21st C Municipalism (except where it miserably doesn’t) Reflection 2: *Evidence* is…

Take-Aways from #LocalGovCamp 2015

Consolidating my thinking and in a spirit of sharing … The Right Conditions for Digital Paul Brewer (@pdbrewer) pitched a session about the Right Conditions for Digital (see his blogpost) based on his experience at Director of Digital and Resources at the very interesting Adur and Worthing.  This could have been a longer session.  Paul…

Devolution: The end of Localism?

(This is a bit of thinking out loud in an entirely personal capacity) In future times as we look back on the process of devolution now beginning, we may see that this was the point at which localism came to an end. This may seem contradictory – surely devolution is a decentralising force and therefore…

Why do we Reinvent the Wheel – The #UKGC15 write-up

I pitched a session at UKGC15 to try to explore the issue of why some innovation happens from scratch rather than being a case of adopting and adapting viable solutions developed elsewhere. I was motivated to do this from my experience as a member of the Service Transformation Challenge Panel where we saw quite a lot…

The Maturing of GovCamp and an Iconoclastic Suggestion or Two…

So, 24th January 2015 (also known as “yesterday” on a special one-day-only limited offer) was UK Govcamp 2015. It was really good, in all the ways that such events are good, and not so good in ways where … it could be a bit better.  In some ways it is maturing well, in other ways some…

Deja Vu All Over Again

I am personally inspired by the folk who are driving forward the LG “”Digital”” agenda in multiple ways, through events, blogs, tireless work and at significant personal cost in terms of time, and, um … cost. From several local gov camps and similar, and much tweetage there seem to be a whole set of recurring…